We called chickpeas as one of the biggest food and health trends of 2020. The humble legume, once relegated to a cold add-on at salad bars, is now the star ingredient in a wide array of delicious plant-based eats, including chips, pastas, and of course everyone’s favorite healthy dip: hummus.
However, as delicious as hummus is, there are only so many carrot sticks and pita chips you can possibly dip into it before getting bored. While the creamy chickpea spread has certainly landed itself on top of the snack popularity list, its pairing options aren’t exactly plentiful…or at least that’s how it seems.
Turns out, there’s actually a lot more you can do with hummus besides using it as a dip. Given the snack’s health benefits, it might make you want to rethink treating hummus as just a side dish. Lisa Richards, CNC, a nutritionist and author of The Candida Diet, says hummus is a heavyweight in the healthy food arena. “It’s a nutrient-dense snack that provides a significant amount of other nutrients, specifically minerals that are often missing from even a healthy diet,” she says. “For example, one serving of hummus provides almost half the manganese recommended dietary intake (RDI) at 39 percent. Manganese acts as an antioxidant the body protecting us from oxidative stress, but is also vital to bone health and brain function. A serving also contains nearly 15 percent of the RDI for iron.”
In this case, the recommended serving size for hummus is just two tablespoons. That small amount can provide a decent dose of other healthy vitamins and minerals, including copper, zinc and potassium. “The combination of these nutrients make hummus an effective anti-inflammatory food,” says Richards. “The fiber content [about two grams per serving] also makes it ideal for replenishing good gut bacteria and has been shown to improve heart and other chronic disease risk factors.”
TL;DR: All of us who love hummus could stand to eat more of it. And if you’re bored with dipping crackers and veggie sticks, you’re in luck. Below are seven easy ways to spice up your hummus cravings and take advantage of its impressive dietary benefits.
What to eat with hummus (that’s not just veggie sticks)
1. Use it as a spread
“Hummus makes an excellent spread for sandwiches to replace low nutrient spreads like mayonnaise,” says Richards. You can even trade in your nut butter or avocado for some hummus to make a simple, open face sandwich on your favorite healthy bread. While chickpeas are already packed with protein, top your toast with some hemp or sunflower seeds to for an extra boost. Or, make this tasty smoked salmon rosemary sea salt hummus toast with sliced white onions and kalamata olives for something a little more filling.
2. Incorporate it into a salad dressing
Skip the plain oil and vinegar and make an easy hummus-based dressing to add to your salads. This one from blogger From My Bowl is seriously fast (only three ingredients!) and can give your greens a serious glow-up. Simply blend hummus, olive oil and lemon juice together and top on your favorite salad. Or, replace the olive oil with a zesty dijon mustard for something with a bit more zing.
3. Swap out your pizza sauce
If you like dipping veggies in hummus as a snack, try a yummy veggie and hummus pizza. This tasty treat is easy—instead of sauce, spread some creamy hummus over a pizza crust and add fresh veggies, like sliced cucumbers, chopped red bell pepper, and leafy spinach. Then, sprinkle on some feta cheese for a Mediterranean flair.
Speaking of the Mediterranean diet, here’s the FAQ on the eating plan straight from an RD:
4. Spice up your hors d’oeuvres
Hosting a party? Switch up the typical hummus cruditės for something a little more creative. “[Hummus] can be used as part of deviled egg mixtures or placed as a topping to a portobello mushroom,” says Richards. She also suggests using it as a spread inside refreshing cucumber roll-ups which, depending on your palate, can be dressed up with different meats, cheeses and vegetables.
5. Add it to soup
Hummus soup?! That’s right. Turns out, the creamy chickpea spread can be used to thicken up stock, add flavor to broths, or even as a starring ingredient. Need some ideas? This sweet potato hummus soup makes for a cozy, creamy treat to warm you throughout the winter. Garnish with a dollop of Greek yogurt if you want to tone down the spice (and get in some extra calcium).
6. Try it as a marinade
As with salad dressing, hummus can also be used as an easy marinade on chicken, fish, and vegetables. And while it’s great for adding flavor, it’s also a simple way to give your meal a little extra boost in the fiber and magnesium departments. If you want to try hummus as a marinade, simply brush it on your meats or your vegetables before you cook them. Or, blend chickpeas with a squeeze of lemon juice and tahini to make your own glaze.
7. Dip nuts, fruits, and cheese
Plot twist: pita chips and raw vegetables aren’t the only thing you can dip in hummus. If you want to get a little daring with your dipping, try it with something not so traditional, like nuts, fruits or cheese. Almonds and cashews are especially good—not only are they delicious, they’re also high in minerals essential to heart and bone health. Or, try fruits, like sliced apples or pears. If you’re not sure about the combination of sweet and savory, maybe opt for with a creamy dessert hummus (yes, those exist) for a tasty treat.
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